What Is News?


News is the information and knowledge about events, problems, achievements, changes or other activities which occur in society. It is usually conveyed in the form of articles, books and reports and reaches its intended audience through a range of channels such as newspapers, radio, television and the internet. People have always been interested in news but technological developments, especially the invention of printing and then radio and the development of the television screen, have made it easier and more quickly to convey.

Generally, news is reported by journalists who are trained to gather and present facts objectively, without personal bias. However, the way in which news is framed and presented will still be influenced by the prejudices of the journalist and the editor as well as the opinions of other writers. The news media tends to favour stories which will attract and keep a readership. Stories which are ‘hard’ (events, disasters or scandals) will attract more readers than soft news stories (such as a visit by the Queen).

A story is considered to be news when it is unusual, interesting, significant or about people. It must also be new. The assassination of Mrs Gandhi, for example, is news although it happened some time ago. But if some important facts about that assassination were only recently discovered, then it would again be news.

The most important news items are given prominence in a newspaper or broadcast news bulletin, usually being presented in detail on Page One. Lesser news items are given less space and may appear later on or in an inside page. Occasionally, no news item is printed or broadcast at all.

Crime: Any type of criminal activity is likely to make news, including road traffic offences, break-ins and robberies, but more serious crimes, such as murder, are generally regarded as more significant. The same goes for other activities which go against the public moral code such as forgery, bribery and fraud.

Money: People are interested in the fortunes of rich and famous people, but even a story about someone who gives their ten cents to a charity is of interest. They are also interested in the Budget, taxation, price increases for food and petrol and wages.

Entertainment: The world of music, theatre and cinema is of interest to many people, and so are stories about the careers of film stars or other famous personalities. People are also interested in fashion, clothing and jewellery.

The behaviour of politicians, the conduct of war and peace negotiations, laws and regulations are all newsworthy. In addition, the weather is often reported – especially when it is hot or cold, windy or rainy. Stories about the environment, education and sport are also important, as is anything which affects the daily lives of the population. These include the cost of living, housing and school fees; the price of bread, fuel and electricity; inflation; and wages, salaries and the Budget. People are concerned about health, so stories relating to traditional remedies, medical research, hospitals and clinics are newsworthy.